Friday, January 1, 2010

Trying to divert our fears, perhaps

Two days before Christmas, as Dick and I were driving, we kept hearing about the airplane crash in Jamaica. Four people were injured. One person who was on that plane said "if I could drive home, I would." For two days, every news break had a report about this airplane accident. I couldn't understand it. I'm not minimizing anyone's pain, don't think that, but I just kept wondering, especially as we saw four (or was it five?) car accidents on our way to upstate New York, just how many people will die this Christmas holiday on the road? I haven't found a answer to that question, and have been surprised to discover that it's fairly hard to get daily statistics about car injuries.

Tonight, on the CBS evening news, on this first day of the new year, we are being told to be afraid of staying at hotels. There have been 60 hotel bombings since 2001, "twice the amount as before 9/11!" Be very afraid.

Cars? This is something that people should be afraid of. Over 40,000 people die in or from car accidents in the United States every year. Over 100 people die every single day. For more information, go here.

People are phobic about airplanes and we think it's reasonable. Once, when I mentioned I was traveling abroad, someone asked me if I got anxious when boarding a plane. When I said "no", she was a bit taken aback, "Aren't you afraid of crashing?" Well, sure, I wouldn't want to be in an airplane crash, but the likelihood of it happening is rather small (and no, I haven't got statistics). The likelihood of my being in a car crash is fairly high, considering that there are over 6 million car accidents a year. But, we get into our cars without nary a thought about it. We talk on the phone (dangerous), flip stations (dangerous), reach for stuff behind us (dangerous), turn our heads to talk to our passengers (dangerous), argue (very dangerous), drive when tired, in bad weather, in bad moods, when we're sick, when we're distracted, (dangerous, dangerous, dangerous, dangerous, dangerous). . .

Yet, I can't find the answer to "how many people died in car accidents in 2009?" or how many people died on Christmas day. I'm not given to conspiracy theories, but I'm starting to wonder if "they" don't want us to know. I'm not sure who they are, but our fears are influenced by all sorts of media. People are afraid of nonsense like the Mayan 2012 end-of-world prediction than they are of driving drunk ("sure, it's bad, but I know how to do it").

Well, that's my first post for the new year. Happy New Year. Please folks, put on your safety belts. I'm serious.

Image note: We rubberneck when we pass car accidents, but I believe we've become numb to what we're seeing. We rather have to be, don't we?

1 comment:

jmcleod76 said...

I hate flying. Not because I'm afraid. I'm not. I just really, really hate everything about it - giving my peronsonal belongings over to strangers (and paying them $30 per bag for the privilege!), security screenings, cramming into uncomfortable seats, sitting practically pressed up against total strangers for period of an hour or more, the inescapable screaming kids, my ears getting sensitive to the altitude change. And, much as I am not a germophone in general, brething airplaine air is just like driing a big virus cocktail. I got sick one day after flying back into Maine from Pittsburgh this week, and I never get sick. So yeah, much as I try to convince myself it's completely irrational, I'd almost always prefer to take my chances on the ground. Ironically, I quite enjoyed the complimentary bus trip to Boston my airline gave me when mechanical failure forced them to cancel my flight and put me on another airline. The seats were large and comfortable, there weren't many people on it, so I got to sit my myself, my baggage was free and I got to watch the driver put it under the bus, there weren't constant annoying announcements, I was allowed to listen to my ipod for the entire trip, if I wanted, and there was even a movie. Don't know how I'd feel after 12 hours, though. I think I'd still pick my own car.